(Maeve Eloise, in new scarf handmade by Liam)

I can't believe this. Seems like only a few short months ago that I suspected labor at dawn and pushed out a new, mewling daughter by breakfast time. But it has happened, the circle has spun round once more and she is now a year old.

A year old, a year new. Still so much to learn, and to do, yet I feel like something has ended.
She's only a day older than yesterday.

It has been for nine years and nine months that my life has been saturated with babies and babyhood, pregnancy and nursing and waiting and conceiving and birthing. While I can hardly bring myself to face the possible end of this phase, the practicality of the life we lead forces me to consider it. I put a hand up to the side of my face, trying not to see. I don't want this to end. I want to have a baby forever. It seems like all I know.

This being said, I went to Liam's baseball game with just Aoife and Fiona on Saturday. Maeve was at home sleeping, and the girls and I brought a wicker basket full of tea, milk, sugar and snacks. We got out the china and we had a gorgeous, civilized picnic and watched the game. There was no disaster-prevention necessary. Just me and two level-headed daughters having a picnic. It felt so sane, and I could have melted into the grass for how relaxed it made me to not have a baby on the picnic blanket.

But then she reaches for me with her long, wiry, pale arms, and clings to my neck. Her mouth is wet on my shoulder and the back of her dark hair is a little sweaty and damp. Her skin is so smooth and she grabs me with sharp fingernails, clinging to me, her rock and anchor. I am everything to her. I want it to be this way forever.

She reaches for me and calls, Mama. She laughs when she comes into my arms, stroking my cheek. She points at all the things around her, labeling them when she can. Dog, ball, cat. Pop, Bob, Papa. Dad. When she's not sure, she points and says "that". She wants to know. She waves at everyone we pass, offering a delicious, seven toothed smile and a lazy, "Hiii...". She is innocence and beauty. I cannot resist admitting the delerious joy I feel at being her absolute favorite person.

Maeve is one. The baby I rushed to have, thinking that it wouldn't work to stretch things out. The baby that came so quickly, right on the heels of her sister. When Fiona turned one I was four months pregnant. Today I was sleek in new white pants and a green shirt. There will be no new baby. Our family is growing and changing and I miss already the beautiful little baby who is turning into a girl before my very eyes.

Happy Birthday, Maeve. You have brought me immeasurable joy. The beauty and completion you bring to our family is beyond words. May you live for a hundred years, surrounded with light, beauty and love. I love you so very, very much.


May thirteenth has come and gone, the anniversary of the birth of my motherhood stolen has passed me by once again. That her birthday fell on Mother's Day seemed both appropriate and also a cruel joke. I desperately needed a day this year to be honored as a mother; as it was I felt too numb to admit the day was anything but hers and couldn't wrap my head around doing both. We did what we always do, we planted flowers, we puttered around the yard, we baked things to eat. We talked about her, we thought about her, we argued because the grief made us cranky.
This is how we parent the fifth child.
Meanwhile, four hearts still beat strong beneath us, even when we want to crumple and wrap our arms around the shadow of the daughter we might have had. So we parent them, we parent them hard, and we try to be brave when they ask us difficult questions about our journey.

Tomorrow, now, our baby turns one. One whole year of beauty with her. She sleeps now, upstairs, and I can see her on my new-fangled baby monitor that I bought to ease me through the transition of her out of my bed and into a crib (five feet from my bed, but a crib) so that we could try to restore something resembling an evening to our home. Now I can put her to bed at night and she goes to sleep, and I come down here and I can read to the older children, and I can tuck Fiona into her bed and sing to her, and I can parent them all.

It is nearly midnight. I have crafts abound to finish for Maeve's birthday. But while I waited for some photos to print, it seemed right to post on the eve of the last spring birthday. Perhaps another post soon.